Saturday, May 25, 2019


Our Great Horned Owlets before leaving the next this year
We arrived back to Arizona and there was very little rest for me.  I had several projects and some guiding to do! Not only that, we had a fund raising event.  So I had to carefully weave my work schedule and birding forays together into one masterpiece of a lesson plan.

On the work front, I was busy watching over our Great Horned Owls.  They, once again, successfully hatched in our new nest box.  There are 3 beautiful new owlets in the world now.  It takes quite a bit of community outreach to educate the general public and school population about these birds.  Hopefully through my talks and data, more people are aware about how owls fledge. And hopefully the Freshmen learn that they do not eat hot and spicy Cheetos. Ugh! It's the same conversation EVERY year.  Everyone thinks they're injured when they find them on the ground.  In most cases, this is not true.  Great Horned Owls need to develop leg strength first and THEN their wings develop. They flop out of their nest and stay close to a bush or tree for cover. The parents are usually close by watching and protecting them. It's funny watching them begin their first flight:)  Here's a recent video of the birds after they fledged. 

On the guiding front, I met a new friend and birder from Florida by the name of Homer.  It was his first time to Arizona which means he got to do the Southeastern Arizona sampler with some of the fun extras that are rare to the US. 

We had a blast looking for all kinds of great birds around Southeastern Arizona. This guy was serious and he was "no holds barred"! He's a great birder and was ready for the challenge. Every morning he was ready to go!  It's the adrenaline of being in a new space.  I smile because his energy was contagious and it was fun finding life birds. 

Bendire's Thrasher
There's nothing quite like birding in Arizona.  I love this state and I love my birds. I just bird local areas now unless something good comes into the state, but even then, I think I'm slowing down on the chases. Like most of you reading this blog, we watch birds from our local patches.  I have become more interested in behaviors. But when a friend comes to visit for a good chase, I'm ready for the challenge. Homer is a fantastic photographer and I hope he comes back again to visit. 

Gambel's Quail
We spent some time in Box Canyon searching for some incredible birds.  But I also couldn't get over these amazing views!

The beautiful Box Canyon
Meanwhile the dramas of public education played out during my daytime job.  We are losing teachers and no one cares.  Promises are broken and the majority of parents have come to see education as a glamorized babysitting clinic.  It's a bit scary.  I do my part and try and build community in my classroom.  On this day, we celebrate our year's accomplishments. 

Cascarones Day, a celebration before finals
We took a bus of students over to the Biosphere where I took my readings of nesting Barn Swallows on the grounds.  Everything looks fine in that area. Thanks to Lori for organizing the event! 

During this time, me and Mr. Gordon took a side trip over to Texas and New Mexico.  Those posts are coming. 

Bell's Vireo
My friend Celeste came to visit and she had never been to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. And I was itching for a road trip with Betty.  

It was a gorgeous day FULL of birds.  The exciting find for us there was a Red-eyed Vireo!  It was a new state bird for me.  I should have been more excited, but I have to admit, it was really about the company and once again, great weather, birds and views. 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum
I wasn't done.  Yes, I am mentally and physically exhausted.  I have been going non-stop since March.  One of my last things I got to do before diving into my work full time was join our Wrenegades team once again to fund raise for Tucson Audubon. We did it once again and this year our Birdathon raised over 35,000 dollars! 

the Wrenegades strike again!
I have discovered that I now have a bunion.  Bunions are real and they hurt like crazy.  So I need to wear wider shoes.  Plantar fasciitis is also real.  Good gods!  I both love and hate getting older!

It has been a fun ride to the end of this school year.  

Grace's Warbler
This summer is going to have a small change of plans from my normal birding treks.  My Dad had a triple bypass surgery recently and I wanted to be home with my family to help out.  But before I do go home, I'll be stopping in Maine with Kathie and Gus for some fun birding. 

climbing Tumamoc Hill and counting birds
 This year has been difficult for so many people.  I'd like you all to keep Kathy Cooper in your thoughts.  If you've followed this blog over the years, you'll know she has been the wind beneath our wings at the Aribabi Ranch.  This weekend she fights for her life at the hospital. I went to visit last night and I wish I were here to help her daughter out but I've got to head back to be with my Dad.  To top it off, Kathie's hubby, Gus, had a stroke this last week.  So please keep these peeps in your thoughts. They're all wonderful people.

Kathy on the Aribabi Ranch doing a land survey
The human condition, birding, mentors, work, relationships and everything else can be a real challenge.  The only thing I can do is be there with good energy for the people who have done so much for me in my life.  I can only hope to pass on their knowledge from what they've taught me.  It's not that we won't find birds together; we will.  But this year, it's about being present. Next week we take a trek to Texas to search for several endemics!  

We discover a secret pond in the foothills and I collect data with Lori and Tami
Life truly is an amazing adventure!  Until next time.....


  1. Chris your energy, enthusiasm, passion, and compassion truly shine. Positive healing energy to your Dad as weel as hugs to Kathy and Gus when you see them. Please slow down once in a while, take a deep breath, and be one with... Hugs

    1. Thanks Gaelyn. I am just getting to these comments this week and am so sorry. BUT I am taking your advice and slowing down for the next week. You are so right about all of it. Thankfully my Dad and Gus will be okay. And I am fortunate to have said good-bye to Kathy and glad I was able to do it before she passed. It's just difficult saying good-bye.


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